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Sunday Matinee #15 Glory
Ante up in Acts of the Apostles and acts of Glory
Good morning, everyone, and I hope you’re doing well. My schedule is shifting a bit for April entries, as Holy Week and Easter shift my attention (Happy Easter!), and I thank you for your patience and readership as deep dives and entries keep coming your way this month.
Time for another R-Rated Movie Club entry and thank you for being a subscriber. Today, we have a new poll for you and remember, it’s only open for one week. Poll results come in two weeks, so we’ll see you then. All right, here we go…
Audience Reaction Poll
Last month, we had four polls about the 10 nominees for Academy Award for Best Picture 2022 and this month we narrow down the winners of all four polls into one.
First, everyone had the chance to take a poll about the 5 R-rated nominees, as well as a poll about the 5 PG-13 rated nominees. Then, paid subscribers got to do the same with their own pair of polls. We shared the results of all four at the end of March.
Now, the five nominees that received votes - both R-rated and PG-13 rated, both from everyone and from paid subscribers - are going head to head. That list of 10 nominees is boiled down to 5, and only one winner can take all.
Will it be one of the highest box office performers like Avatar: The Way of Water or Top Gun: Maverick? Will it be the intimate and personal The Fabelmans? Will it be the winner of several artistic and technical Oscars, All Quiet on the Western Front? Or will it be the actual winner of the Oscar, Everything Everywhere All at Once?
Now that it’s just these five, who is your pick?
The poll closes in one week, so vote today!
We’ll talk about the poll results right here in two weeks, and thank you.
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Quotes With Notes
Acts 2:37-38, 42
Full Text: Acts 2:14a, 36-41 (Revised Common Lectionary)
3rd Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2023)
Sign up for a free course at EnterTheBible.org to learn more.
Context: Continuing from last week’s passage, a gathered crowd experiences a powerful event they can’t explain. Jesus’s disciple turned apostle, Simon Peter, steps up and offers his take on it, relying on quoting scripture to proclaim prophecy fulfilled. The crowd embraces this and now they have a big question.
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “What should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Glory (1989) | TriSTar Pictures, Freddie Fields Productions
Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Andre Braugher, Jihmi Kennedy
Written by Kevin Jarre, Lincoln Kirstein (book), Peter Burchard (book) | Directed by Edward Zwick
Context: This film based on the 54th Massachusetts regiment of the US Army is a tale of the first Black soldiers enlisted to serve in the US Civil War. It follows a tent of soldiers and their commanding officers as the company undertakes an uphill battle of racism, classism, and war. After a hard-fought battle from muskets to hand-to-hand combat, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) approaches Pvt. Trip (Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role), a runaway slave, to bear the flag in their next battle. They have had a hard relationship leading up to this quiet moment alone, including Col. Shaw overseeing Trip being whipped for going AWOL.
Colonel Robert G. Shaw: So what do you want to do?
Trip: Don't know, sir.
Colonel Robert G. Shaw: It stinks, I suppose.
Trip: Yeah, It stinks bad. And we all covered up in it too. Ain't nobody clean. Be nice to get clean, though.
Colonel Robert G. Shaw: How do we do that?
Trip: We ante up and kick in, sir. But I still don't want to carry your flag.
In recent years, I have taken quite a shine to a pair of questions in Acts of the Apostles. This is the book of the Bible depicting what the early church was like after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The disciples have become apostles and now, despite any faults or stumbles they’ve had along the way, they are now seen as the leaders. Maybe they had imposter syndrome. Maybe they were concerned they couldn’t do the right thing at the right time. Maybe they weren’t sure if they could carry on for Jesus. If you’ve ever found yourself in a leadership role even when you’re not perfect, perhaps you can relate.
As for that pair of questions, the gathered crowd experiences a powerful, holy moment. Something is at work and they’re trying to put words to it. They look to each other and ask, “What does this mean?” That is an amazing question! How many things have happened in our lives that we try to seek meaning from? What are the milestone moments in our lives that are pretty plain until we give them power, until we say this means something, this is important? That’s what the crowd is trying to do here.
Simon Peter says what he thinks it means - the Holy Spirit is at work. Then they ask, “What should we do?” Simon Peter’s response is essentially, work with the Holy Spirit. This pair of questions is, quite possibly, at the heart of living out one’s faith. If we have a powerful moment in our lives, we can ask, what does this mean? Perhaps we realize the Spirit is at work. And if that’s the case, what should we do? Work with the Spirit. It’s a beautiful bit of writing that has resonated with me more and more lately.
In the movie Glory, Colonel Shaw (Matthew Broderick) asks Private Trip (Denzel Washington) to carry the regimental colors, the flag, into battle. When he hesitates, Shaw wants to know what that means: “Why not?” Trip says he isn’t fighting the war for you - you perhaps meaning Shaw but also perhaps the nation. He asks what he and people like him, once enslaved, what they will get? Shaw says they get nothing if we lose.
Shaw asks two more questions, echoing the crowd’s second question to Simon Peter (What should we do): “So what do you want to do?” When Trip says it would be nice to get clean, Shaw follows up: “How do we do that?” Trip’s response echoes what Sgt. Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) once told him in the heat of an argument: “Ante up.” That is, do the work.
Taking a step back to see a situation in the big picture can at once give one pause to better determine what to do, while also running the risk of the situation seeming daunting and overwhelming. Some of us may even want to run. Yet, leaning in - doing the work, anteing up - that’s how the situation gets addressed. The crowd doesn’t become a church devoted to new teachings and breaking bread together without going through the fire of figuring out what things mean and how to respond. Trip is a soldier who was only in it for himself until he saw what it means to fight alongside with and for brothers. It took a lot for him to take that step back, but that’s exactly what he needed to step forward.
When have you been confused about what’s going on? What has given you perspective or faith to try to understand? When did you have to “ante up” and do the work? How has it paid off for you? Where have you named the Holy Spirit at work in the world?
That does it, Dear Reader, we’ll see you next time. May you be open to the wonder that is around you and may it inspire you to live with generosity and kindness. And to today’s preachers, may gathering for worship with your community encourage you in your own personal faith journey. God’s peace and good movies to you! Happy Easter!